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New Tissue-Repository Firm to Close Microarray, IP Collaborations in 6 Months

NEW YORK, June 27 - Ardais, a two-year-old company that hopes to develop and license a nationwide repository of diseased human tissue samples, plans to link up with a number of genomics-based tool shops within six months, a company official told GenomeWeb today.


Martin Ferguson, senior vice president for bioinformatics, said Ardais, of Lexington, Mass., will strike partnerships with a microarray company and an IT-infrastructure shop. The collaborations are intended to build and market a comprehensive suite of biodata, with Ardais' tissue repository at the center.


Though Ferguson wouldn't mention by name the companies with which he has been negotiating, it is believed that either Agilent or Motorola are likely candidates on the array side, while shops along the lines of IBM and Sun, rather than Lion or InforMax, will contribute informatics, said Ferguson.


He added that "eventually" Ardais may seek collaborations with laser-capture microdissection firms like Arcturus.


The deals will be either standard-equity collaborations or traditional IP-sharing alliances, Ferguson said.

Though the market Ardais is hoping to enter is not as chockablock as, say, the SNP-genotyping or bioinformatics segments, it is dominated by one 800-pound gorilla: Gene Logic. With its own 10,000-sample tissue repository, for which it shelled out some $150 million to build, Gene Logic is already one of Affy's biggest customers and has built a strong reputation among researchers, hospitals, and big pharma.


But Ferguson said Ardais, which "will soon become a competitor of Gene Logic," is in a better position. For one thing, Ardais' tissue samples are more pure than Gene Logic's, and it has behind it firms and schools like CuraGen, Aventis, and Abgenix, and the University of Chicago, Beth Israel Deaconess, and Duke.


Ferguson said Ardais, which raised about $45 million since 1999, might have a leg up on Gene Logic in one other way: Researchers who currently use the repository can double-dip "into the same exact specimen" if they wish to perform follow-up research.


He added that it will begin collecting sera associated with the samples in its solid-tissue bank, and in the process dip a toe in Genomics Collaborative's market.

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